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Dayton Docket

How To Land One Of The Coolest Jobs In Law

By Lauren Karch

Practicing patent law might not sound like an action-movie “cool job.” But it’s led UDSL alum Allie Krueger (nee Larsen) to Munich, Germany, where she handles patent applications in areas ranging from pharmaceutical agents and formulations, immunology, medical applications and industrial chemistry to various mechanical subject matter - honestly, pretty cool. 

Krueger earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry, with a minor in biology, from Indiana University in 2011. During her undergraduate studies at IU, she worked in a research lab under the direction of Dr. Erin Carlson where she performed organic synthesis of alpha-chloroacetamide probes to be used for activity-based protein profiling experiments. While she enjoyed her time in the lab, she decided she wanted to pursue a career outside of research and chose to apply to law school.

After graduation from the University of Dayton School of Law in December 2013, Krueger moved to Munich, the home of the European Patent Office. There, she worked for a British firm for a little more than 3 years, specializing in prosecuting European patent applications, UK patent applications, and US patent applications. She’s since transitioned to a German firm, df-mp, where she works on oppositions, prosecutes patent applications before the European Patent Office and provides advice relating to patent infringement and validity under European law.

Krueger qualified as a US patent agent prior to graduating from UDSL and has almost finished completing two different sets of exams in order to become a qualified European patent attorney and a Chartered UK patent attorney. She also plans to sit for the Ohio bar examination within the next year in order to become a fully-qualified US patent attorney.

“US patent law differs in various respects from European patent law, so when I started working here in Europe, there were many times where I felt like was starting from scratch,” she says. “The overall principle of patentability is the same: an invention needs to be useful, novel, and inventive, but there are many procedural and substantive differences that I have to keep in mind on a daily basis when dealing with US, European and UK patent applications.”

Tim Swensen, Assistant Dean and Director of the Career Services Office, helps students assess their post-graduation career options and market themselves for competitive jobs. He says the demand for patent attorneys is relatively high due to its low number of practitioners.

"You need to have that hard science background to go into patent law, and few people emerge from law school with that kind of background," he says. "The number of people who come into law school who are patent bar-eligible are very few."

The University of Dayton School of Law provides a unique advantage to students seeking patent careers: the law school's Program in Law and Technology. PILT offers courses in intellectual property and copyright, cyberspace and entertainment law, and the ever-expanding impact of technology in the courtroom.

Swensen says PILT attracts students who want a background in law as it pertains to both patent and trademark issues, as well as faculty with expertise in those areas.

"Dean Strauss has renewed the school's commitment to the PILT program, and the professors who run it are very enthusiastic and charismatic. They're also just really good at what they do," says Swensen.

UDSL was one of the first law schools to offer a law and technology program, Swensen says, when PILT was launched in 1989. He says having a well-established program in law and technology has resulted in a larger network of alumni in patent law.

"Our faculty and the Career Services Office have a good foundation of contacts out in the working world who we can put people in touch with," he says.

Krueger says that networking has been invaluable to her career.

“I would tell law students to be open-minded when they begin law school. During your second and third years of law school, take as many different types of classes as you can and find out where your interests lie. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to seek advice. In my case, I knew that I wanted to practice patent law, but I never knew that working abroad was an option. Living and working in Germany has provided me with many invaluable experiences and I have met so many amazing people – you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.”

“I would also advise law students to find a mentor, whether it be a practicing attorney or a professor, and learn as much from these individuals as you can. I was fortunate to have so many wonderful professors at UDSL and to extern for an excellent patent attorney during law school and I am where I am today because of them.”
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